ABOUT JANHAVI PADTURE (V.P., Strategy & Research, Harbinger Knowledge Products):
Janhavi has over 17 years of experience in the Information Technology field with a focus on web development, project management and marketing. At Harbinger, Janhavi has been involved in strategy, marketing, CRM and new product initiatives including Raptivity, YawnBuster and TeemingPod.
Janhavi has spoken at various industry conferences (including AICC, ASTD, eLearning Guild) and local groups on topics pertaining to online learning. Her prior experience spans academia, consulting, Fortune 100 companies, and a leading advertising agency. Janhavi holds a Masters degree in Computer Science and an MBA.
ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW SERIES:
As part of our tenth anniversary celebrations, we proudly present ‘Crystal Balling with Learnnovators’, a thought-provoking interview series that attempts to gaze into the future of e-learning. It comprises stimulating discussions with industry experts and product evangelists, on emerging trends in the learning landscape.
Join us on this exciting journey as we engage with thought leaders and learning innovators to see what the future of our industry looks like.
1. Learnnovators: What according to you is the future of e-learning? How do you look at the interesting shifts happening in learning paradigms (such as social learning, flipped classroom, Bring-Your-Own-Device, etc.) fuelled by the enormous possibilities thrown open by emerging technologies?
Janhavi: In recent years, we have seen the eLearning landscape changing and adapting rapidly. I attribute this to two primary reasons, emerging technology and the growing expectations of the learning & development community. Technology is truly the enabler in making many of these shifts a reality. And because of that, learning professionals have come to expect more from the same, be it sophisticated interactivity or social learning. Here on, I believe that eLearning will grow in different directions, such as cloud based eLearning platforms, formalization of MOOCs, mLearning and multi-device delivery. And last but not the least, we will notice a subtle shift from information gathering to knowledge sharing.
2. Learnnovators: What do you think is the future of rapid interactivity building (RIB) tools in the e-learning development scenario? Where do you think the industry is moving? What according to you are the challenges ahead?
Janhavi: Rapid Interactivity building tools have to adapt quickly to the changing technology and the changing demands of the learning community. One area where these tools will continue to invest in will be HTML5 and mobile responsive output. In addition, we will see greater adoption of the Experience API. We will find that more and more people will be looking to create interactive experiences that cater to different learning objectives or learning styles. One of the challenges is of course responsive design of interactivity. An interaction that is suited for eLearning may not be suited for delivery on a smart phone given the screen size differences. So, the challenge lies in deciding whether to provide the control downstream and leave it to the discretion of the ID to design something that will suit different screen sizes, or to take control of it upstream and dynamically change the output based on the device.
3. Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid interactivity building tools are aligned with the possibilities offered by Experience API? How will the tools evolve further to capitalize the real power of this standard?
Janhavi: Just like other eLearning tools like LMS and authoring tools, Rapid Interactivity building tools without exception need to adopt the Experience API; however very few can really claim to do that. I am happy to inform you that Raptivity, our RIB tool, is among the early adopters of this standard. One of the criticisms that eLearning platforms face is that their Experience API implementation is nothing but SCORM in disguise, and these tools are not really leveraging the power of the Experience API. So I think we will see the next evolution in that area. With Experience API, organizations will be able to capture and record even granular data from interactions. And over time, this would yield a rich repository of valuable information that could be further sliced/diced to uncover more insights such as shortcomings of the module, how people learn, what learners like, and so on. Over time, we might even see Big Data driven learning applications emerging, owing to the amount of data that will now be possible to record and look up with Experience API.
4. Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid interactivity building tools are equipped for ‘gamification’? How will they evolve further to reasonably satisfy this requirement?
Janhavi: One of the main reasons people use Rapid Interactivity Building tools is learner engagement. And gamification is undoubtedly a great way to engage learners. One thing I would like to clarify is that ‘gamification’ is a vast topic and encompasses a wide variety of games from simple puzzles, game shows, to multiplayer and even immersive 3D games. So one has to realize that there is no one tool that will do everything. What tool you need depends on your requirements. For that matter, for some complex games, using RIB tools may not even be the right solution; maybe you need to get it custom built. Most tools though will move toward sophisticated graphics and rich media because bandwidth and memory are becoming less of an issue than a few years ago. Another emerging area that gamification platforms might look into is Augmented Reality based games. It’s still a very new technology but presents very interesting possibilities. Having said that, I would also like to make a distinction between games and learning games. It is important to understand the distinction, because the latter have some learning objective and fulfil some instructional need. So the RIB tools that enable you to create learning games, such as Raptivity, have to ensure that the games produced are compatible with the other eLearning platforms such as LMSs, authoring tools, and also comply with the standards. I see that the RIB tools in this space will focus on games for mLearning in the near future.
5. Learnnovators: How do you think today’s rapid interactivity tools are aligned to produce courses that are ‘Responsive’? How, according to you, will they evolve further in this regard?
Janhavi: Today, very few rapid development tools produce ‘responsive’ output. I am certain that in the near future we will see this as one of the focus areas for many of the tools producing learning content for mobile delivery.
6. Learnnovators: How extensively do you think rapid interactivity tools presently support Accessibility requirements? How will they evolve further in this regard?
Janhavi: Balancing accessibility and interactivity is always a tricky thing. That is because, to support accessibility, you need to have simple transitions and navigation. So the more higher-order interactivity you develop, lesser the ability to incorporate accessibility. It is not a limitation of the RIB tools but rather a function of the stringent standards required for accessibility. The good news though is that simpler interactions can be made accessible, and RIB tools such as Raptivity provide the capability to create accessible interactions easily and quickly. In Raptivity, there are a total of over 50 interactions which are Section 508 compatible. Many government organizations and education sectors require strict adherence to 508, and so tools like these make it easy to incorporate interactivity and yet not compromise on accessibility. One area rapid tools could evolve further is mobile accessibility. The good news with HTML5 which is a fast emerging standard for interactivity is that it is much easier to make it accessible. The catch though is that not all browsers support the accessibility constructs in HTML5. But we hope to see more and more HTML5 content becoming accessible.
7. Learnnovators: What are your views on video-based learning? What are Raptivity’s options for developing interactive-video based interactions?
Janhavi: Raptivity has several interactions which allow videos to be incorporated. Raptivity supports more than 100 interactions that have the ability to add videos. Raptivity has a video turbo-pack which has 10 interactive video interactions. These interactions help successfully transform video watching, an inherently passive activity, into a more active video-based interaction. For example, there is an interaction where questions can be presented to the learner while the video is playing to make sure the learner is attentive and engaged.
8. Learnnovators: Learning today happens across multiple devices, and there are many challenges that courseware developers face (such as device-relevant interaction models). What are Raptivity’s options and plans to address their concerns/requirements for designing ubiquitous learning?
Janhavi: Like all other tools, Raptivity is also working towards making eLearning ubiquitous across devices and browsers. Raptivity was one of the first tools to support HTML5 output. Now we have nearly 120 interaction templates to choose from which support HTML5. In fact, one significant step forward in that direction this year was the release that ensured HTML5 output that is compatible across the various major browsers. The next challenge we plan to address very soon is ‘Responsive output’. That is critical for learning to be delivered across multiple devices.
9. Learnnovators: Today’s trend is to build a community engaged in constructive discussions around your product. How significant is this synergy in a tool development scenario? How do you think your community is driving/ will drive innovations in your products?
Janhavi: Active community is a great asset for any product and an integral part of the product. It applies to a product like Raptivity as well. A great example of innovation driven by our community of users is ‘Raptivity Evolve’. Last year, we launched this new initiative where interaction ideas were suggested by our community members on InteractivityHub (Raptivity Community), and the Raptivity team created them and included them in the Raptivity library. We literally had a new interaction added every 6-8 weeks. This is a win-win scenario because we know we are building something that users need, and they are getting what they have been looking for. Raptivity Evolve was very well received by our customers. So far we have added 8 interactions to the Evolve pack already, and plans are to add more as our community members come up with more ideas. These interactions are complimentary to our premium customers.
10. Learnnovators: What according to you would make an ideal rapid interactivity builder tool?
Janhavi: An ideal rapid interactivity tool in my opinion must meet these basic requirements:
- Easy to use
- Gives you the ability to choose an interaction that best suits your needs, from a selection
- Gives you a good amount of flexibility for customization based on your needs
- Compatible with other learning platforms and authoring tools
- Can produce both Flash and HTML5 output to meet the different requirements
- Support tracking standards like SCORM, AICC, etc.
Learnnovators: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights and experiences, Janhavi. It was wonderful interacting with you. We wish you and your team at Harbinger Knowledge Products the very best!